Wpg Free Press: Jets, Oilers among organizations leading the way in indigenous tributes
As Winnipeg Jets fans make their way to their seats and players prepare to stand on home ice for the national anthem, an announcement fills the downtown arena.
The message — believed to be a first for an NHL team — says the Jets play on Treaty 1 land which consists of “original territories of Anishinaabeg, Cree, Oji-Cree, Dakota, and Dene peoples, and the homeland of the Métis Nation.”
Niigaan Sinclair, an assistant professor and head of the native studies department at the University of Manitoba, raised the idea. It’s also based on a commission recommendation that organizers of international sporting events involve and respect local indigenous communities.
Reminding crowds of 15,000 or more about indigenous lands is a way to raise public awareness of Canada’s past and of the treaty-based relationships between First Nations and others, Sinclair said.
“Every venue where people congregate, every single government in North America, should acknowledge the history of the land they are on, which doesn’t begin with the arrival of Europeans or newcomers or immigrants or whatever you want to call them.
“This is a responsibility that every single North American person inherits.”
Sinclair approached Jets co-owner Mark Chipman earlier this year about having a pre-game statement about treaty land.
“Mark Chipman just turned to me and said, ‘Well, this is the right thing to do’, and … next thing you know, they did it on the opening night of their season.”